When I was planning how to spend our 4th year together in Hong Kong, I thought of spending it like we are really in Hong Kong. City streets, locals and Chinese foods, not the mainstream of temples, shopping and theme parks. I was really aiming for something frugal yet involving, where stimuli are rare for our responses to deepen how much we really know each other.
November 2015, just when we started planning this trip, Michelin which I knew was just listing haute restaurants in big countries, released their brow raising, first ever street food outlet section on their list. Ive always been dreaming to dine with her in famous restos and thought should we be able to chow down in all the 23 listed street foods, that may perhaps equate to 5 Michelin Starred Restaurant. Yes that was I thought, plus the excitement the HK conurbation could surprise us.
Sharing our frugal itinerary and lovely snapshots below. Make this your #relationshipgoal, #wheninhongkong next time, use #HKmichelinSF
Being a tourist in a destination which most of the establishment signs are in Mandarin or Cantonese characters, hunting your subjects turns to be more exciting. When we had the rove around the recently Michelin cited 23 Hong Kong street food outlets, we had noticed the following helpful ocular traits to notice in order to validate your quest and chow down exactly in one of the street food outlets recognized by Michelin as deserving to be in their Guide for the FIRST EVER Street Food Section.
Note that when you vaguely understand the direction of your Google map and you are not able to see the Michelin seal sticker in the facade, these five could help you as confirmatory spots.
1: THE QUEUE
It goes with the recognition of these outlets that they are serving really good food. Thus, patrons do not care how long they will be waiting just to indulge in the quality of food to be served to them. Locals are enjoying the queue, day and night. We have never seen anyone irritated nor annoyed while waiting for their turn. It seems like everyone understands that they have to wait just to taste the food. When I asked a young professional next to me, he said that falling in line, no matter how long would that be is already part of the culture when you want to immerse yourself in Hong Kong street food scene. Most of these stalls open by 12 noon and close at 9pm.
2: THE FLOCK
Stores might have both the line and the flock or just either. For those who serve “take away” only or does not have enough space anymore for those who wanted to dine in, you would find an obvious flock of locals waiting for the call of their food being packed. “Take Away” is their term for take out. Just like seeing the locals patiently waiting in the queue, this scene would really make you rationalize that these stores really are worth listing in the Michelin since their food are really being patronized compared to other street food stalls on the same block or others who offer the same menu. That simply means they are serving distinctly delectable food.
As their signage is written with a non-English font, reaching these stores is not really that easy. What they post though on their walls would help you validate your quest. Aside from locals, HK celebrities have also invested their time to taste how sumptuous these recognized street foods are. Actually, these personalities have long appreciated these foods way before Michelin did their list this 2016. Printed articles from blog features are also being posted. In fact, we have confirmed that we have arrived at Soupreme, in Tai Ko Tsui when we stopped awhile and read some of the articles in their glass wall.
4: DINING TRAFFIC
For those stores which possess a part for dining, it is noticeable that the tables and chairs are always almost occupied. Locals just simply have to stand minutes after partaking their orders since others who do not choose to pack their food for take away, earnestly wait for a table to be free. If there is a third sign next to enjoying the QUEUE and patiently waiting in the FLOCK that I am really appreciative with the discipline and kindness of Hong Kongers, It would be this. They are selfless enough not to stay longer seated, seeing others who are waiting to eat. This scene may be true to all Hong Kong restaurants, but it is in these few Michelin listed stalls where you could really appreciate it more since a lot of locals really lord over it.
When we finished the collage of the facade photos of all the Michelin street food stalls, this was a common characteristic we have noticed, their business names are all in RED font. To be precise, 16 out of the 23 outlets have Red or shades of red colors in their signage. Especially those stores which have been really existing for significantly long years, their streamers are as simple as red letters in white background.
The palate memories from the foods served from these recognized street food outlets would definitely pull you to visit this gifted island state again. However, that particular behavior you have acquired of searching for a food house that thoroughly stretches your senses and that rewarding emotion of finally arriving and eat an internationally acclaimed meal? That made this wander indelible and such a unique, “checked-as-done” itinerary in our patented bucket list. You will be stuffed from head to the stomach, to the sole.
Celebrated as TripAdvisor’s 2015 Traveler’s Choice Awardee being the Best Beach In Asia, unarguably White Beach, Boracay Island of the Philippines has really the most severe dissociative effect to someone who would choose the beach life over the stressors of reality.
Since ranking of beaches was startled, Boracay had never been lowered from the first ten spots. So what keeps it on the list aside from the expected and praised powdery sand and superb sun-sinking-in-your- horizon views? I think, it is how the Island’s distinct fame are modified.
STATION 2 with the World’s Biggest Pearl
Tagged as the station for the mid class, ironically Station 2 recently has been a cradle of a private gem. Deep inside the premise of Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center, tourists would deliberate whether or not they are really in a close encounter of the World’s biggest Pearl ever discovered in the waters of the Philippines. 8.9kgs, 8 inches diameter.
STATION 3 with the thrilling Reverse Bungee
Admired by those who wanted to be solely intimate with the beach away from the crowd, station 3’s brand has always been for the loner beach lovers. It has been venues for pre nuptial pics and sunbathing while reading your favorite book. Recently, St3’s whispers will be chopped with electrifying screams from the reverse bungee. Imagine a giant swing but it doesn’t sway. It just bounces up and down while coaster is suspended in the air with its elastic cables.
D MALL with the quirky Breathing Statues
Being the only beach mall in the Philippines, D mall itself is an only-in-Boracay spot where aside from shopping and eating out, is a perfect spot for people watching and free fashion runway of beach goers on their beach town outfits. However, there are just 3 to 6 quirky clad humans whom you’ll be confused with being mannequins. They are the phenomenal photo mates found just near the entrance of Tides Hotel Boracay.
EPIC BAR with the Beach-side Bonfire Dance Floor
Any beach party goer would agree that thus far, Epic Bar at the junction of stations 1 and 2 is the most respected beach rave authority of the island. Well having that reputation, Epic’s dance floor is jam-packed almost nightly. With such stimulus, other party goers ignited a bonfire fronting the bar where they could still dance with the music from the bar’s mega speakers, still let drunk with the bar’s liquor, still meet the bar’s teasing inter racial guests.
PUKA BEACH with You. Yes You!
Ranked as 5th Best Beach in Asia, Puka Shell Beach in the northern side of the island embraces those who wanted a break from the mainstream of the three stations. The leftmost shore have equally impressive beach views with that of the white beach, only with courser sands, without the hotels, bars and restaurants. The rightmost shore is bizarre, that facing the Carabao Is. Romblon. The waves are mildly wild crushing the colossal stone formations along the shore. Puka beach for me is the best beach in the Island. However, its glory is shaded with the popularity, accessibility and commercialization of the white beach stations. Thus, it takes you to visit there. Take more pics and upload it to your cyber profile.
THE GROTTO with the mermaid
The stone islet existing like a mole along the shore of Station 1 has long been famous for picture taking. And So, why not dramatize your photos with you being a mermaid with the trendy mermaid suits!
This so called 24/7 island has always a lot to be marveled for. It is not just its natural morph worth to be titled as the Best. Along the coming years, it could also be appreciated that the Island’s world class features are malleable enough to adjust with what kind of spice the emerging touring populace would love to experience. Making it a tamed but still natural pandemic entry of every traveler’s bucket list. Don’t be left out with the trend. Visit Boracay. Now.
With almost 2 dozens of waterfalls splashing around the city, Iligan is no doubt a refuge for travelers from the mainstream of white sands and beaches, mountain ridges and adventures, urban life and party. I am talking about spicing up your trot pics with mist and cascades and getting wettish!
Just if you wanted to pattern the fall hopping with mine, capture these 23 falling water formations by the divide and conquer tactic. For the first target, it will be called, the Southern Waterfall Trifecta – A hidden swash, a resort neighbor fall and the famous queen of them all!
Since we are heading all southern destinations, you could just rent a Habal-habal (Public Motorcycle) for this 4-hour-escapade. Just plan whether you wanted the whole trip ending with a distinctly Iligan spiced lechon baboy lunch in front of the famous Timoga spring pools, 8-12nn or ending with a beef randang dinner in a famous block in the city, Iliganon (Pala-o Branch), 2-6pm. Yes. 4hours for 3 fascinating falls.
TIP- book your Habal-habal the night before at the City's postal building, just left from the St Michael's Cathedral. There's a convenience store "Shoppe24" where a lot of these motorcycles are arrayed for a passenger. You'll see them sprouting by 10pm. You could buy something and sit first inside Shoppe24 on the seats facing the glass wall. This is a perfect view to eat while choosing who is the driver you wanted to hire by looking whoever has the most trustworthy appeal. Hahaha Do your haggle and set the meeting details for the next day. Don't give any peso yet, just exchange phone numbers. Paid Php 400.00 for the whole ride.
A church has always been significant for me, more so in traveling. It lets you feel the temperament of the society your destination has. Churches (in the Philippines) are most of the time situated on a most strategically accessible spot in a city and that I believe churches are best starting point in your itineraries.
From the cathedral to the first fall, that is the queen – Maria Cristina Falls, It would take you 30 mins the most. Just go straight going south with the national highway. When you have across the Agus bridge, that’s the bridge with Iron bars inked with yellow, just turn left just really after the bridge. Then just follow through the entrance. It is a hydroelectric power plant compound. You could avail but have to wait for the free ride around or you could just enter directly with your wheels after the entrance fee. Paid 110p (30/head and 20 for motor).
She is powerful! Her pour is dominating. Massive! When you are nearing her you could hear her splashing. Seem drowning your ear drums. You could see how mighty her drops are since the river where she flows seems on a blitzkrieg towards the bay. The flow is almost reaching the roads you are paving. Really strong and yet as they call it Majestic!
TIP- Be there with Her twin. I mean when it is on its full blast. Ideally be there before lunch. You should see a rock between Maria and Cristina. That also means better photos.
Next is the charming fall beside a resort. Mimbalot Falls! Just reach back the national hi way and go straight just before Linamon bridge. Turn left, always left until you’ll see her. Naturally timid first with the colossal trees and almost unnoticed because of the entrance booth of the resort on her left
When you finally see her whole body, she is with oozing charisma. Inviting yet whispering to you that be cautious. Her rocks that makes her curvaceous might be dangerous. The view with her is very intimate. It’s like you’re so near to her but she just lets you be wettish not totally wet. She is the most approachable of them all.
TIP- you could also set her to be the last stop so you can choose to go inside the resort with its facilities with reasonable rates. You could get a cottage and spend time resting near Her.
Finally to complete the trio. Tinago falls! As it means in Visayan term, Hidden. Expect the travel to be far, wide and lengthy than the journey from the first two. When you get back to the hi way, turn right. Always remember, you don’t have to cross the Linamon bridge. Then just few minutes you’ll see a street going right narrowed because of seafood vendors and public Sarao jeepney with barkers. Turn right. You could also see signages of “Going to Tinago Falls, Maze Resort or Taytay Pools”. That’s the right way. Just follow through the road. This time, always right.
Just 30 minutes the most, be cautious with the small signage of Tinago falls. Vehicles are left at the accepting grounds. Don’t worry it is guarded by the friendly baranggay dwellers. No specific fees, they just call it donations. That is one for the park guard (20p). One in the entrance shed where there’s a box for donations (30p) and one for your accommodating tour guide whom I gave 100p for being so compassionate with my girlfriend who was panting as we ascend almost 500 steps from Her.
She is really hidden. That’s 20mins more walking from the park to her. I lost my count either when we descended her steep stairs. If the queen roars her splash on your ear drums as you nears her,
She on the other hand, masks her mist on your face as you are approaching. She hugs you with cold cascade breeze and trap you with her enchanting shades of green from the trees and twigs to her spring and moss covered rocks. She is just tempting. I personally even forced myself to leave her. Hidden. Worth sought for.
As I end this with enchanting memories and when you finished reading it with hallucinations, prep your gears. Be back to the real. Book your fare to Iligan. Visit them. They are waiting and you refer them as She. Her.